Winter water for livestock and horses

By Robin Young
Special to The PREVIEW
Water is an essential nutrient livestock require. The importance of animals having access to clean water year-round cannot be over-emphasized.
In the winter, giving livestock access to a reliable water source can be a real problem because of the snow, ice and freezing temperatures. Fifty to 80 percent of the animal’s live weight comes from water. Animals can lose almost all of their body fat and 50 percent of body protein and survive, but the loss of only 10 percent of water can be fatal.
Livestock require a good supply of water in order to maximize performance (feed intake and production). A “good” water supply would be one that has enough water to meet the animal’s needs and one that is of high-enough quality (i.e. clean). Livestock water consumption is based on a variety of factors, which include:
• Size and kind of animal.
• Physiological state of the animals (i.e. a lactating, pregnant or growing animal will require more water intake than one that is not).
• Level of activity — Animals such as horses that are being worked or livestock that are being transported need more water.
• Type of diet — Animals grazing dry pastures will require more water.
• Water quality (i.e. salt content and purity).
• Water temperature.
• Air temperature.
Do not mistakenly believe that animals can meet water requirements by eating snow or licking ice. With daily water requirements varying from 3 gallons (sheep) to 14 gallons (cattle), one can see that livestock would need to spend every waking hour eating snow to meet their requirements. Ice and snow consumption lowers body temperature and will increase maintenance energy needs, so it should be discouraged.
Research has shown that water sources that are warmed to 37 degrees Fahrenheit will encourage animals to drink and help ensure they get adequate water intake. Water tank heaters may be needed to ensure that water sources do not freeze. Always follow manufacturers’ recommendations to prevent fires and electric shocks or electrocution of livestock when using water tank heaters.
If you do not have access to tank heaters, fresh water needs to be provided several times a day. Breaking ice in water tanks or ponds just once or twice a day may not be enough for an animal to meet its requirements. Ensuring adequate water intake will encourage optimal health and performance of livestock and help prevent serious conditions such as colic and impaction.
Upcoming CSU
Extension programs
March 7 — 25th annual Four Corners Invasive Agricultural Weeds Symposium, McGee Park, Farmington, N.M., 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. To register, contact bhopkins@nmsu.edu or call (505) 334-9496. The cost is $20.
March 17 — 2018 Colorado Cottage Food Producers Required Food Safety Training — An opportunity to increase your personal income. Located at the CSU Extension office, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. To register, contact robin.young@colostate.edu or call 264-5931. The cost is $30.
March 20 — “Smoky Air, Should We Care? A Presentation and Panel Discussion on the Science, Impacts, and Management of Smoke.” The keynote speaker will be Kelley Barsanti, Ph.D., UC Riverside. It will run from 6 to 8 p.m. at the CSU Extension office and is free to attend.
CPR and first aid classes
CPR and first aid certification classes are now being offered monthly by the CSU Extension office on the second Monday and Wednesday of each month from 6 to 10 pm. Anyone needing to receive or renew certification can register by calling the Extension office at 264-5931.
We will also attempt to schedule classes on additional dates with five or more registrations. Cost for the classes is $80 for combined CPR/first aid and $55 for CPR, first aid or recertification. The type of first aid information provided will vary by the needs of the audience.
More about
CSU Extension
CSU Extension is your local university community connection for research-based information about natural resource management; living well through raising kids, eating right and spending smart; gardening and commercial horticulture; the latest agricultural production technologies; and community development.
Extension 4-H and youth development programs reach more than 100,000 young people annually.
CSU Extension programs are available to all without discrimination.

This story was posted on March 5, 2018.